Customer feedback is perhaps more important than ever. According to a 2015 survey by Pew Research Center, 40 percent of American adults always or almost always consult online reviews before making purchase decisions, and 74 percent think it is important to check reviews. As such, when companies actively pursue feedback and listen to their customers, many may see major brand loyalty gains, in addition to increased traffic, clickthrough rates and conversions.
Unfortunately, some companies still aren't listening, leading to missed opportunities. Customer feedback provides a unique window into what your customers are focused on and what needs to be done to strengthen and grow your business.
For an optimal customer feedback strategy, I suggest focusing on three key insights at the pre-sale, transactional and post-sale stages.
Insight No. 1: What's Your Pre-Sale Buyer Experience Like?
Buyer experience is something that every company should already be testing and refining on an ongoing basis, and using customer feedback can help pinpoint specific areas of improvement. Is your mobile site glitchy? Are pages slow to load? Is the navigation (user experience) counterintuitive?
Look for feedback that points to friction. Three or four customer issues around the same friction point means you may have spotted a pre-sale issue that's costing you engagement and revenue. The shopping experience should be as seamless and easy to navigate as possible. If it's not, you're giving potential customers a reason to leave your site.
—Don Ross, president of the Americas, Trustpilot
Other pre-sale feedback can help save you money (and customers) in the long run. If you're seeing feedback critical of specific ad campaigns or marketing strategies, you may be alienating your customers. This happens all too often with businesses that have rotating inventory. That forgotten ad promoting an out-of-stock product can be a major pain point for shoppers. Use this customer information to refine your marketing campaigns and improve performance, which could lower your acquisition costs.
Insight No. 2: Are You Making Transactions Easy?
There's a small window of time during the at-sale stage to close the deal. Miss it and your shopping cart abandonment and bounce rates could spike significantly.
When gathering customer feedback, look for trends identifying what may have caused abandonment. Are customers complaining of too many required clicks? Are they concerned their data will be sold? Were there too many page redirects? Perhaps that new payment processor you're trying out is more trouble than you bargained for?
You can also use customer reviews to learn exactly how customers feel about tested elements. Try offering related products right before or after a transaction, or utilize trust symbols displaying your commitment to security during the payment process. These little things make a difference, and it's easier to capture what matters if you hear it straight from your customers.
Insight No. 3: Is Your Post-Sale Customer Happy?
Post-sale customer satisfaction can be essential for the long-term health of your business. It's common to have post-sale orders fulfilled and shipped via third-party vendors. That experience is, for the most part, completely out of your control—unfortunate, because third-party fulfillment and shipping composes a large part of the overall experience with a brand. If you've ever ordered a keychain-sized product that was shipped in a box large enough to contain a kitchen table, you know what I'm talking about. Frustrating, isn't it?
Third-party vendors can make or break your reputation. Without a customer insights strategy, you're likely leaving it to chance. Fortunately, customers are happy to tell you whether or not a shipment arrived on time and in good condition. Leveraging customer feedback allows you to identify service gaps among your third-party partners, making it easy to weed out those that are negatively affecting your business.
Collecting Customer Feedback
Customer feedback is essential to refine all points of the buyer experience, but it needs a clearly defined strategy in order to be successful. Whether you use a third-party review platform to automate the process or choose to capture feedback on your own, consider doing it proactively and train yourself (or use technology) to spot patterns and trends in the data. By proactively listening to your customers, you're valuing them—and improving your brand in the process.